I already used up my black phallus joke in my Darkness II preview. Where is there left to go after that? Deeper into the game, a place that angels fear to tread, is where!
I already covered the game mechanics in a reasonable amount of depth, so I'm not going to bore you by going over them in the same depth again. If you didn't take the hint to click on the link above when I first shoved it in your face about eight seconds ago, have a look through here
. But, for those who won't, the ADHD-friendly catch-up:
The Darkness II
is a first-person shooter with heavy emphasis on the use of supernatural abilities and brawl-y gameplay. Jackie Estacado, our anti-hero, didn't have much of a 21st birthday. Most of us get pissed. He became the host of a demonic force from the before the universe spooged into existence. This demonic force wanted him to do all sorts of nasty stuff, but he settled for slaughtering his way to the top of the mob, with his best gal Jenny unfortunately murdered along the way.
Jackie's kept it at bay for five years now, but a sinister organisation called the Brotherhood is out to take the Darkness for itself. Clearly, the best way to deal with that is to use the Darkness on them, right? Right. Yes.
As mentioned in the preview, this sequel focuses on the use of the Darkness more than its predecessor. Where in the first game the powers took a bit of charging and were there to complement the shooter elements, here they're front and centre right out of the gate - primarily in the form of the be-toothed tentacles you've seen in screenshots.
This creates a game that genuinely has a feel that's largely its own. It's a bit of a weird feeling these days, playing a shooter that innovates beyond the load-time for a carbine. Elements of the hack 'n' slash genre are integrated well, with neither the close-quarters combat or the shooting elements feeling tacked-on. Melee attacks usually feel like a last resort in pure-bred shooters – something that would have been disastrous here.
As well as the more obvious slappy tentacle-based attacks that come with your powers, you can use them for hoisting and lobbing things around the environment. A car door becomes a shield, an iron rod from a construction site becomes a spear. There are far
more gas bottles strewn about the environment than seems reasonable, and you can guess what happens to them.
There are also abilities like a Darkness swarm to distract enemies or Darkness shots to be fired from your guns. They're all there to be purchased on a skill tree, with Darkness essence collected from fallen foes as your currency.
By the end of the preview code I was a little concerned that things might get a little same-y, with enemies primarily consisting of wave after wave of mob grunt, but I can happily report that Digital Extremes has done a fine job in mixing up the environments and enemy types to provide variation.